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Terry Collins Decision of the Game: Are You Sticking with Bartolo Colon or Not?

The reason why Bartolo Colon has been effective all season has been his ability to locate and put movement on his high 80s fastball.  When he is unable to do that, he becomes a batting practice pitcher.  Last night, Colon was a batting practice pitcher.  It all come unraveling in a four run second inning.

Consider for a second, the first out of the inning was a sacrifice bunt by the opposing pitcher Adam Conley. Up until that point, the Marlins first four batters of the inning had hit the ball hard, and there were already two runs scored.  Dee Gordon the followed his first inning home run with a two RBI single making it 5-0.  With the way the Mets offense has been hitting lately, and with the Marlins bullpen most likely needing to do a bulk of the heavy lifting on the night, this game was not out of reach.

What was interesting was Colon was due up second in the top of the third.  Last week, Terry Collins was very aggressive pulling his pitchers in a search for more offense to win games.  Granted, there is a massive difference between pulling Colon early than Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, or Gabriel Ynoa, but the game was already on the verge of getting out of hand at 5-0.  Furthermore, with Gsellman going deep into Sunday’s game along with the Mets not needing Ynoa or Rafael Montero to start another game this year, the Mets could’ve rolled the dice in pulling Colon.  Instead, Collins stuck with the veteran in the hopes that he would get himself right and go deep in the game.

In the bottom of the third, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen.  Right off the bat, Christian Yelich hit the ball hard, and it deflected off of Colon.  After the play, Collins and Ray Ramirez would go out to the mound with Colon ignoring Ramirez.  Giancarlo Stanton followed with a hard line drive out to center.  At this point in time, it was clear Colon didn’t have it, and yet he would go another batter.  Justin Bour then hit a hard line drive to right that Jay Bruce misplayed into a two run triple to make it 7-0.  Right then and there, the game was effectively over.  It was right then and there that Collins lifted Colon for Ynoa.

If you want to defend Colon pitching to start the third, you can make the case.  You can make an even better case given the emotions of the night and the way Colon was being hit around, he should not have been in the game.  The issue becomes why not let Colon finish the inning?  It’s one thing to go to your bullpen for six plus innings to stay in a close game.  It’s a whole other matter to go that deep into the pen for a game you’ve already lost.  Why not let Colon figure it out?  At that point, what is the difference between 7-0 and 10-0?  You might as well try to steal a couple of innings out of him to save the bullpen a bit – even with the expanded rosters.

As it turned out, the Mets bullpen wouldn’t get burned.  They got good work out of a group of relievers who are most likely not going to be on the postseason roster with Ynoa, Montero, Erik Goeddel, Josh Edgin, and Jim Henderson.  Still, you have to question what Collins would have done if one of those guys were hit hard.  Would he have made one of them wear it, or would he have chased the unlikely comeback?  We’ll never be sure.  What we are sure of is Collins inability to play it one way might’ve cost the Mets what might’ve been a winnable game.

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